Category Archives: book

Review: House Of Cards Book

 

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“All members of Cabinet are referred to as Right Honorable Gentlemen. There are only three things wrong with such a title…” – Michael Dobbs, House of Cards

I must admit, like most Americans, I hadn’t heard of Michael Dobbs or his award winning book series until Netflix released their take on the trilogy starring Kevin Spacey. When I first picked up the book and opened to the very first page, I was hooked. After seeing Netflix’s House Of Cards, I was pleasantly surprised to find it different. Much of the same characters are there but with a different twist.

Unlike the TV show, the book opens with Mattie (or Zoe to those familiar with the show) and not Francis. The story is set in the UK and deals with a Chief Whip in the British government. After not receiving the deal he’d been promised by the current Prime Minister, he decides to abandon all loyalty and punish those who’d betrayed him. He blackmails the weak, manipulates those around him, uses the media and even resorts to murder. His personality is snobbery mixed with charm and several pounds of cunning intelligence. By the end, two key characters are killed off and a Prime Minister replaced with Francis himself.

If you’re thinking this might be like the TV show, you’ll be either surprised or disappointed.

Key Differences

American Politics vs. British
The British government is a whole different breed an the American establishment. If you have no idea how the British government works, you won’t need to worry because this book won’t confuse. At first, I was bit a lost but after a few chapters I found my way. In the TV show, Frank is terribly liberal but with no ideology whereas Francis is a conservative with high expectations of reward.

Mattie vs. Zoe
In the show, I thought Zoe was a bit stupid and very vane. Mattie possesses more of a conscious and stronger morals. Zoe, other on the hand, is willing to do what it takes to get what she needs. For example, using her body to manipulate Frank.

Claire Underwood vs Elizabeth
In the show, I absolutely loved Claire. I very much missed her absence in the book. Francis is married to a woman with almost the same personality and conspiratorial evilness as Claire but she doesn’t take much part in the story. It isn’t until the second book that we see more of her.

Then vs. Now
When the book was published in the 1980’s, politics and technology was different. Things vastly changed when the web connected everyone and the middle east became more a threat. In the book, the Soviet Union is mentioned whereas in the show education is a key part.

I could go on with the list but I believe most of you can see how the story varies from the show. Which of course it would. One is British and written in the 1980’s and the second is American and filmed today. I have started reading the second book and will report on it soon.

Review: The Indispensable Heroes of Guards! GuardS

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When a book dedicates itself to fantasy’s expendable Red Shirt Army with the witticism of a P.G. Wodehouse novel, you know you hold a diamond. When I given Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! to read, I was a little weary to give it a try. The dull artwork of a strange looking dragon on its cover wasn’t eye catching. The summary on the back was about as appealing as a very moldy ham and egg sandwich. But, encouraged by my friend’s enthusiasm, I trudged on like a good soldier and opened the book.

Six words in, I knew I was infected.

Guards! Guards! is full of clever sentences that get right under your skin. It opens in a fictional place of Terry Pratchett’s own imagination called Discworld. Our unlikely heroes are the Night Watchmen of Ankh-Morpork who dedicate themselves to alcoholism and never running too fast lest they actually catch a criminal. It’s these four characters Vimes, Colon, Nobbs and Carrot drew me closer to the pages. I felt as though I were a part of their crew.

The plot begins when an incompetent secret brotherhood schemes to replace the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork with a puppet king of their own. In order to accomplish their evil deed, they summon a dragon using a stolen magical book and that’s when the mayhem starts. It’s up to Captain Vimes of the Night Watch and his rag-tag team to stop this dragon and restore order. My favorite character out of this crew was Carrot. Having lived his entire life in the underground caverns of the dwarves, Carrot discovers a whole new world when he steps foot into Ankh-Morpork. He volunteers with the Night Watch which we are told nobody would ever think of doing. His naive yet bold nature reminds me of myself when I moved out of my parents’ house and discovered the life of a city girl.

The voice and style of Guards! Guards! is marinated in Pratchett’s love of good British farce. A ridiculous cast of characters find themselves tangled in improbable scenarios and complications. The heroes and villains are silly enough for us not to take seriously yet so thoroughly well done they seem almost tangible. Our antagonist, the Supreme Grand Master, is a whimsical parody of an egotistical maniac driven by his hatred of humanity’s stupidity. Lady Ramkin, a potential love interest of our protagonist Captain Vimes, is overweight, hazardously confident and sharply eccentric with her fondness for dragons. The story is full of action and spotted here and there by extreme cuteness such as the scenes with the swamp dragons. Also, hidden in the text is a treasure trove of references to Hollywood films.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes a great read.

Fake It Til You Make It

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Recently, I went to a Writers Conference and pitched my book to 2 editors and 2 publishers. 3 of them liked my pitch so well they invited me to send them an email. That was two weeks ago and I still haven’t sent them a single email. You can look at me in shock and wonder why I haven’t jumped furiously at such an amazing opportunity. I mean, I have 3 people interested in publishing my book!

The reason for my procrastination is simple. My book isn’t done.

I’ve been telling people that, yes, my book is indeed finished. The editors didn’t ask if my book was finished. They’d just assumed. For if they’d asked, I would have looked them in the eye and said No. For months, I’ve been saying, “Yes, my book is done. I just need to retweak some things.” Well, I’ve been retweaking a lot. And recently I’ve made some startling discoveries.

I discovered my main character is really my secondary character and my second character is really my main. I’m redoing my book. Not rewriting the entire thing completely from scratch. HAHA. No. That’d be insane. But I’m pretty nearly doing that. I’m rewriting a shit load of it. I’d say 70%.

I know, this time, my book is perfect. The idea and plot are solid. I’ve pitched my book to many friends, people I don’t know, and colleagues and have gotten great feedback. Everyone likes the idea. I discovered my audience can better connect with my secondary character than my originally main character. I discovered a whole new world with my secondary character who is now my main.

But… I still need to send my stuff to the editors. I won’t finish my book in a week. That’s a ludicrous hope. The editors wanted the first three chapters of my book. Done. To perfection, I might add. They wanted a synopsis as well. Not done. To imperfection. Terrible. The Synopsis.

I have the main idea and bare bones of my book down. I know exactly what it’s about, who all the main playing characters, the in’s-and-out’s of the plot, and how it’s going to end. The part I don’t have are the holes in between. There some spots I’m still trying to sort through and figure out. Which makes writing a synopsis a little difficult. I can’t tell any editor about my book if I don’t know Everything about it.

I’ve sat down and plotted out main ideas and what I want to happen. But I know that I won’t figure everything out until I sit down and actually start writing. Because that’s how I figure things out. I usually outline my book very simply then fill in and connect the dots as I write. This time, though, I’m trying to write a synopsis before I even start writing. I have the damn synopsis started but then it reaches a certain point and stops. It’s as if I’ve come to a cliff. I can see just beyond the cliff to the other side but I can’t see how to cross the cliff.

Since I know I won’t be able to figure everything out in a week, I’ve decided to bullshit it. I’m going to write a synopsis and try to keep it somewhat close to what I want my book to be about. The rest… I’ll make up. The editors won’t see my stuff until three months later because they’re extremely busy. Meanwhile during that time, I’ll be writing and figuring out my book. When they finally do get back to me, I’ll hopefully have a concise and clear understanding of my story. I’ll write a new synopsis and send them it with a note saying I’ve changed my story a bit.

I’m sure others have been in the same predicament I’m currently in. I’ve been told countless times not to approach a publisher/editor unless my book is finished. But I did it anyways. Sometimes you’ve got to fake it until you make it. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope all goes well.

Crazy Storm and Then There’s the Book…

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I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been quite busy. I didn’t want to get on here tonight and start writing because I don’t quite feel like I have much to say. My book is still in the works and will be for a long time. Long time as in between 6 months to a year. I was so hoping to be published by now, but there is so much I have to do to it. I know what you’re thinking… “Geez girl! Get your stuff together.” And you’re absolutely right.

I haven’t gotten much done this month. My life currently has plunged into a tornado obstacles. There’s been so much happening that I’ve found it hard to focus. I put an hour here and there for editing and rewriting but I don’t feel as accomplished as I’d like. Note to everyone: Don’t get a life.

Lately, I’ve been wishing I could take a week off from work and life and lock myself in a closet to finish this book. But that won’t work. I’ve going over the chapters again, deleting some things, adding some stuff. I’m hoping to be done in 6 months. That would be nice. I wanted to be done two months ago… but, pah! In the literary world, things are never for sure.

One reason for it taking so long to finish is the major changes I’ve made. For one, I’ve discovered my main character is really my secondary and my secondary character is actually my main. Think about that! I’ve discovered that some characters actually had relationships with each other. I’ve learned the plot does thicken and the game is afoot. If I could go back to the very beginning, I’d tell myself to OUTLINE. I really wish I’d done it.

At times, my book feels like it’s in shambles. At other times, I’m in need of a drink. And not a fruit juice. Something hard. Tonight, I’m retweeking a chapter and adding some more bacon to the plate. Most people like bacon, right? Anyways, I just wanted to give an update anybody who’s actually cares to read my crazy ramblings.